Football: Two former Panthers elected to Hall of Fame

By Lauren Kirschman

Former Pitt football players Chris Doleman and Curtis Martin were named to the Pro Football Hall… Former Pitt football players Chris Doleman and Curtis Martin were named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2012 on Saturday.

Doleman, a Pitt defensive end from 1981 to 1984, played professional football for 15 years and is one of the NFL’s all-time leading pass rushers. Curtis Martin was a running back at Pitt from 1991 to 1994 and played in the NFL for 11 seasons.

Pitt now has eight Pro Football Hall of Fame players — Doleman, Martin, offensive lineman Russ Grimm, linebacker Rickey Jackson, quarterback Dan Marino, running back Tony Dorsett, tight end Mike Ditka and linebacker Joe Schmidt. The University is tied for third nationally with Ohio State and Michigan.

Pitt trails Southern California (11) and Notre Dame (10).

An eight-time Pro Bowler with the Minnesota Vikings, the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers, Doleman was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. When he retired in 1999, he was fourth in the NFL all-time with 150.5 sacks.

The Vikings picked him fourth overall in the 1985 NFL Draft.

He led the NFL with 21 sacks in 1989 — the fourth-highest single-season total in NFL history — and finished with 10 or more sacks in eight seasons.

“I thank my family. I’m blessed to have the family that I have, to be able to play in the National Football League, coming from great parents,” Doleman said in a Pitt press release. “There are so many things I can talk about, great coaches along the way … guys who have helped me become the man that I am out there on the football field — and in life. I am truly blessed to be in this position and very honored.”

The New England Patriots drafted Martin in the third round in 1995. He was a member of the Patriots from 1995 to 1996 and then joined the New York Jets from 1998 to 2006.

Martin is fourth all-time in the NFL with 14,101 rushing yards and has played in five Pro Bowls. He finished with 2,643 career rushing yards at Pitt but only played in two games during the 1994 season because of an ankle injury. In the 1994 season opener, Martin ran for 251 yards and set a Big East single-game rushing record.

“The way I feel about this, it’s probably the most humbling feeling that I’ve had in my entire career,” Martin said in a Pitt press release. “I feel tremendously grateful for all of the players that I’ve played with and all of the coaches that have coached me and been part of my entire career.